I received a letter this week regarding the cancelation of the fireworks shows that had been scheduled to celebrate the anniversary of our independence from England, even though I find it ironic that our shows’ failure to launch is due in part to our lack of independence from China.
That’s something I learned this week, as I endeavored to find out where our bombs bursting in air come from and discovered that more than 90 percent are made in China, which isn’t churning them out as it usually does for a variety of reasons.
But it does figure that China is our biggest pyrotechnics provider since the Chinese people were making fireworks at about the same time the Vikings landed in North America, looked around and said, “Nah, Iceland seems so much nicer. Let’s go back.”
Anyway, the first real firecracker was assembled around 800 AD (After Detonation, I think), when a Chinese alchemist combined certain elements to produce a substance he thought would allow people to enjoy eternal life. It did, apparently, just not in the way he had hoped.
As I understand it, some early believers in this alchemist’s claims ingested this new substance near an open flame and got blown up out of proportion.
As for the alchemist, whose last words were said to be “Uh-oh!,” what he discovered was gunpowder.
Legend has it this early scientist also consumed his new compound in less-than-ideal circumstances and ended up visiting the many provinces of China all at once.
This dependence on China, however, did not dissuade certain young lads in this country from trying to make their own bottle rockets and such, at least in the days before it became a federal crime to play with explosives and agents would swoop in and ruin everyone’s day by hauling 12-year-old Johnny off to the slammer as a possible terrorist.
Even that, however, would be the preferred way to end a career in rocketry, as opposed to the household authority responding to the unfortunate result of filling a big fat soda straw with gunpowder and inadvertently leaving it on a hot stove.
All I will say about that is that my friend’s mother was considerably less than enthused as this unguided missile zipped around her country store for a good 30 seconds, sending people running for cover and Fusty, the ancient rat terrier, hightailing out the door bound for parts unknown.
The amazing thing about that was we didn’t even know Fusty could still walk at her advanced age, much less cover the entire length of the store at a dead run.
Speaking of dogs, the letter I received read like this:
Dear owner, we are delighted to hear that there won’t be any fireworks this year, as the absence of wall-shaking explosions will not require us to crawl inside ourselves until we disappear.
Happy Fourth, anyway.
Signed, the dogs.